UPS may nix Airbus A380 order

World's No. 1 delivery company, last customer for superjumbo freighter, sees delay of delivery.

NEW YORK (Reuters) -- United Parcel Service Inc., the last remaining customer for the Airbus A380 superjumbo freighter, said Friday it reached an agreement for Airbus to push back delivery dates of the planes and left open its option to cancel the order outright.

UPS (down $0.63 to $72.77, Charts), the world's largest package delivery company, has been rethinking its order for 10 A380 freighters since October, when Airbus announced a third delay on the giant plane due to wiring problems, putting it two years behind schedule.

UPS's planes were originally scheduled for delivery between 2009 and 2012. The company did not say what new delivery dates it had agreed upon. It is set to make a final decision on the order before the end of this year, a UPS spokesman said.

The U.S. company is Airbus' sole customer for the freighter version of the A380. Rival FedEx Corp (down $0.71 to $118.30, Charts). canceled an order and lessor International Lease Finance Corp. and Dubai airline Emirates have switched freighter orders to the passenger version of the plane.

UPS has canceled planes before from Airbus, which is owned by European aerospace company EADS. When UPS made its A380 order two years ago, it cut its existing order for 90 smaller A300 aircraft to 53.

Delays and cancellations play into the hands of U.S. rival Boeing Co. (up $0.03 to $90.61, Charts), which is strongly marketing its revamped 747-8 jumbo freighter, its biggest plane and the nearest competitor to the mammoth A380.

Earlier this month, UPS ordered 27 of Boeing's smaller 767-300ER freighter aircraft, worth about $3.8 billion at list prices, in a move it said was not related to the review of its A380 order.


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